Monday, October 23, 2006

I don't skydive, or bungee jump, or mountain climb, or deep sea dive, or do any sport where you die if you screw up.

Really, running is the most dangerous sport I do. It's a pretty tame activity, but sometimes people do get hit by cars, or sprain their ankles, and every once in a while someone has a heart attack in the middle of a race. I've been pretty lucky in the injury department. Until this weekend.

On Sunday morning I left the house to meet up with Jay for a run. I was going to run the 4+ miles to his place, then join him for a run along the Embacadero. We had agreed to meet in front of his building at 9:30am, but I had never run to his house before, so I mis-timed how long it was going to take.

I was running pretty hard when I was a couple blocks away from his building, doing my best to arrive on time, WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME, when I encountered a little bit of sidewalk construction. Being a nimble and gazelle-like runner, I deftly maneuvered through the detour. Then, and this is where things maybe get a little hazy in my mind, a concrete garbage can leapt into my path, clipping my hip as I sprinted by at speeds in excess of 8 MPH. You wouldn't think that a garbage can like the one pictured here would be such an adept tackler, but apparently those babies move pretty quickly when they have to. The one that attacked me had the same rough, pebbley, concrete exterior, but its contents weren't as technically impressive as the VIC 20 seen on the right.

Anyway, the pain was pretty bad, but I was in danger of being late, so I soldiered on, and the hurty went away in about 30 seconds. Huzzah!

About 90 minutes later, after I had rewarded myself with a coffee and chocolate croissant (one of my very favorite foods in the world), I was walking a couple of blocks home when I noticed that my hip still hurt. I peered down at it and found that I had bled through my shorts. Ewwww.

I got home, cleaned up (after gardening for an hour), and discovered that my collision with the garbage can had taken a small chunk of flesh out of my hip. The wound was less than a centimeter in diameter, but almost as deep as it was wide. I examined my bloody running shorts and found that they had been punctured. Meanwhile, the wound bled very slowly.

After trying every possible realization to avoid going to the doctor, I was eventually convinced that there's pretty much nothing dirtier than an urban garbage can, and that inserting one deep into your flesh is like inviting tetanus over to dinner. My last tetanus shot was probaby 15 years ago. Hank dropped me off at the hospital, and I sheepishly wandered into the emergency room, 2 hours before Daisy's piano recital, with the world's stupidest injury.

If there had been a Tetanus R Us, I would have gone there. If I had a primary care physician, maybe I could have gone there, but I never get sick. I've never seen the same doctor twice. So, off I went to the emergency room for just a stupid shot.

I discovered that list of forms that have to be filled out in order to be seen by a doctor at an ER is simply mind boggling. I don't even think their primary business is health care. I think they're just a revenue generator for the paper business. Follow the money, people. And they asked me all sorts of questions that I was unable to answer:

Nurse: What's your religion:
Me: Uh....none?
Nurse: What's your employer's address?
Me: I have no idea.
Nurse: What's the address of your wife's employer?
Me: Beats me.
Nurse: What's your wife's work phone number?
Me: Wow, these are hard questions.

I think I only got one right.

Nurse: On a scale from 0 to 10, how much pain are you in?
Me: Pain? Um... 1? 0? .5? You know, I'm really just here for a shot.

I met with a couple different nurses and a doctor in the emergency room. Each time I explained my injury they laughed at me. You'd think that I was the first person to ever get attacked by a garbage can. Astonishingly, there wasn't even a checkbox on their form for this type of ailment.

After the doctor heard my tale of woe, she brought in a hospital gown and told me to put it on.

"I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't explain this well. All I want is a tetanus shot. Does that really require getting naked?" I asked

"We have to clean the wound before we can put a bandage on it. We're going to irrigate it with some water. Unless you want to get your clothes wet, put on the gown." she explained.

"Even my underpants?" I whined.

"Do you want them wet?" she replied, exasperated.

So, I stripped down, got washed, got bandaged, got shot, and finished up. Before I left the doctor gave me some instructions on how to care for the wound. She had put some steri-strips on there, to help close the wound and speed healing, and then she covered it in a clear plastic patch. She carefully instructed me NOT to remove that stuff for 5-7 days and NOT to take a bath or shower during that time because it was imperative that the bandages stay on and stay dry. DO NOT TAKE OFF THE BANDAGES, she reiterated. I assured her that I was very skilled at not showering.

I kept the bandage on for nearly 30 hours. I figure that's pretty good.

Oh, and the take home lesson here is that if you tell the people in an emergency room that your daugher has a piano recital in two hours, they really do hustle to get you out of there. I walked out of the hospital about 75 minutes after I entered. That's got to be a record.

And the recital went very well.


Kat Campbell said...

Nobody gets out of an emergency room in 75 minutes! You must have bribed them with more than the story of a piano recital. I'm never sick either, and at least your injury has a smack of athletic to it. I sprained my ankle this summer by tripping over my briefcase. Ugh.

zelda1 said...

I hate when inanimate objects jump out and cause humans injuries. I suppose the baby performed with the exceptional talent? Watch out for those garbage recepticals, they can be very deadly.

carey said...

LOL! 75 minutes is a blink of an eye in the ER. Your comment about bleeding through your shorts reminds me of just about every 11-year-old girl's tale of her first period. (One friend of mine was wearing yellow seersucker on a class trip to DC.)

Glad you're ok, and hope you're now clean!

Mike said...

Kat, I know, 75 minutes is amazing. The place was almost devoid of patients (only one other) and I can only assume that every single nurse and doctor in the building had previously attended a piano recital for their kids.

Zelda1, yeah, Daisy did just fine. Her piano teacher holds an annual costume party/recital that's very low-key, so the kids don't get too nervous.

Carey, I don't even remember if I had time to blink! And, thanks.

Velvet Sacks said...

You take that "no pain, no gain" thing seriously, don'tcha? I hate those reckless garbage cans.

Mike said...

VS, I won't run through pain for the sake of "gain", only to get somewhere on time.